College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative (Scholarship Program)

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Overview, Initial Assignments and Career Path: Students currently enrolled in a bachelor's degree program at an approved college or institution *(defined below) with the desire to complete college and receive a guaranteed position as an officer in the Coast Guard can apply for the college student pre-commissioning initiative program (CSPI). CSPI is a program designed for motivated individuals who demonstrate a high caliber of academic and leadership excellence, with a desire to serve their country in the Coast Guard. Selected students will be enlisted into the Coast Guard, complete basic training, and receive full funding for up to two years of college. This includes not only payment of tuition, books, and fees, but a Coast Guard salary, housing allowance, and medical benefits.

During the school year, students participate in a minimum of 16 hours a month of Coast Guard activities and are supervised by the recruiter in charge at their recruiting office. This includes wearing a Coast Guard uniform once a week while on campus, and during their four weekly hours of Coast Guard duties. During school breaks, CSPI students receive training and exposure to Coast Guard missions and units. After completing their junior year of college, CSPI students attend a three week leadership training course in New London, Conn., "Officer Candidate Indoctrination." Following college graduation, CSPI students attend the 17-week officer candidate school (OCS) also located in New London. Upon successful completion of OCS,  graduates receive a commission as an ensign (O-1) and an assignment in one of the many exciting Coast Guard missions, including (but not limited to) marine safety and prevention, contingency planning, law enforcement and incident management, vessel navigation and safety, search and rescue coordination and icebreaking.

CSPI Eligibility Requirements

  1. Age: Have reached your 19th but not your 28th birthday as of September 30 of the fiscal year in which the selection panel convenes.
  2. Character Standards.
    • ​​​All applicants must be of outstanding moral character.
  3. Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen
  4. Clearance: Must be eligible for a secret clearance
  5. Dependency:
    • ​​If single, may not have sole or primary custody of dependents.
    • May not have more than two dependents.
  6. ​​Education: Be a sophomore or junior undergraduate student enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a bachelor degree program at an accredited college or university designated as:
    1. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)
    2. Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI)
    3. Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU)
    4. The following colleges and universities located in Guam, Hawaii and New Mexico:
      • University of Guam
      • University of Hawaii at Manoa, Hilo, and West Oahu
      • Argosy University - Hawaii
      • Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Culture
      • Online degrees do not qualify.
      • CGRC may consider, on a case-by-case basis, schools not included in this section that have had a minority student population averaging at least 50% of the total student enrollment for the past three years.
    5. Grade Point Average: Must have at least a 2.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale.
    6. Financial:
      • ​​May not have filed for bankruptcy in the last 10 years
    7. Interview:  CSPI applicants must receive the recommendation of a Coast Guard interview board, administered by three Coast Guard officers.
    8. Military Service:
      • Have no more than six years of non-Coast Guard active-duty military service.
      • Reservists are eligible to apply for the CSPI program if they meet all eligibility criteria and furnish a signed/approved  conditional release (DD368)
      • Active-duty members in pay grade E-5 and above with more than four years active service are ineligible.
      • Active duty or reserve members who are in a pay grade of E-4 with more than four years of active-duty service as of the selection panel date are ineligible.
      • Active-duty members may be eligible if discharged from their service before the date the CSPI selection panel convenes.
    9. Physical (Medical): Must pass a commissioning physical (including):
      • Normal Color Vision
      • Meet height/weight standards (see Appendix 1)
      • Must be able to pass a physical fitness test and swim test prior to graduation from basic training and OCS
    10. Test Score:  Receive a qualifying score in one of the following (test scores are valid indefinitely):
      • SAT I: 1100 or greater combined score (math and critical reading)
      • ACT: Composite score of 23 or greater
      • ASTB: 4 AQR/ 5 PFAR (or greater)
      • ASVAB: GT score of 109 or greater (110 if taken prior to July 1, 2004). GT score is derived by combining the VE and AR scores
    11. Program-Specific Requirements:
      • CSPI applicants must be willing to accept and fulfill all requirements of the program statement of understanding (SOU). The SOU stipulates work hours, training, character, academic and administrative expectations of students who have been accepted into the program.

CSPI Terms of Service and Appointment Grade

  1. Selectees enlist in the Coast Guard in pay grade E-3 with a four year active-duty obligation and a four-year inactive reserve obligation.
  2. At OCS graduation, CSPI members will be discharged from their enlisted status and commissioned as an O-1 (ensign) Coast Guard officer (reserve commission) with an initial three-year active-duty obligation.

CSPI Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. If I am accepted for the CSPI program, will I still be able to pursue extra-curricular activities in college (sports, student government, etc).
    • ​​Absolutely. Part of being a CSPI student is continuing to pursue activities that increase your responsibility and involvement in your community, and thereby hone your leadership skills.
  2. Is CSPI the equivalent of a Coast Guard ROTC program?
    • CSPI is a scholarship and leadership training program for future Coast Guard officers wherein enrolled students must adhere to high standards of performance and conduct in order to maintain scholarships status.  In this way, it is similar to ROTC.  However, unlike the typical ROTC program, CSPI students are actually active-duty enlisted members of the Coast Guard with full pay and benefits, until completion of OCS when they receive a commission as an officer.

Application Process:

If you are ready to apply, you must visit the Plan Your Next Move page and follow the application process, which includes downloading the forms and all necessary application elements appropriate for the CSPI program.